Contaminated supplements – spiked with potentially dangerous ingredients

contaminated supplements

The supplement industry is huge and unregulated. Worldwide annual supplement sales exceed US$151 billion, yet contaminated supplements are part of the industry’s method to make their mostly useless products appear to have some clinical effect.

There is growing evidence that these contaminated supplements contain unlabeled ingredients that are found in regulated pharmaceuticals – all without telling the consumer about them. Or testing them. Or listing warnings for their use.

Let’s take a look at Big Supplement, and what’s going on with contaminated supplements.

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Big supplement profits – making boatloads of money in the name of pseudoscience

big supplement

I occasionally have to defend vaccine profits (or the lack thereof), but everyone seems to ignore Big Supplement profits which are far larger than vaccine profits. And vaccines have real science backing them, which is not a statement you can make about Big Supplement.

Let’s take a moment and look at the revenues and profits of Big Pharma (and a bit of Big Vaccine) and Big Supplement. The former has to work hard and provide evidence of what its drugs do, while the latter basically can sit around and throw darts at various claims, then randomly assign those claims to some new or old supplement.

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Vitamin C for sepsis study may be fraudulent — data was too perfect

photo of orange fruit on plate

As you all know, I am a skeptic of almost all supplements, and I never thought that using vitamin C for sepsis was supported by robust and repeated data. Well, an analysis by an Australian physician, statistician, and Ph.D. student may have found fraudulent data, and it’s becoming a topic of conversation among physicians who have used the protocol to treat sepsis.

Let’s take a peek at this story since it is so amazing because this shows how science really works.

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Vitamin D supplements — evidence about safety and effectiveness

vitamin D supplements

The claims about the usefulness of vitamin D supplements are all over the internet. And they seem trendy, especially with COVID-19, even though much of the evidence is extraordinarily weak.

The purpose of this article is to review some of the old and new information about vitamin D supplements. It’s about scientific articles that either support or refute a claim, that’s it. It’s not about what we believe or we do not believe, it’s about evidence.

I don’t think vitamin D is worthless. It is an important micronutrient for human health, and if someone has a chronic deficiency, supplementation may be medically necessary.

On the other hand, proponents of megadoses of vitamins, called megavitamin therapy or orthomolecular medicine (pseudoscientific terms to sound like they are based on real science), seem to work on the unscientific belief that if a little dose helps, a whole boatload dose will help a lot more. Most of these ideas have been debunked and are considered quackery and fads.

I wanted to take a look at the science of vitamin D supplements while examining their actual benefits to health compared to the possible dangers of excess supplementation.

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Vitamin D deficiency could increase susceptibility to severe COVID

spilled bottle of yellow capsule pills

A new study seems to indicate that individuals with vitamin D deficiencies are more susceptible to severe COVID-19 outcomes. This does not mean that lots of vitamin D can prevent COVID-19 or prevent severe COVID in people with normal vitamin D levels, but it does indicate that this could be an easy way to reduce the risk of severe COVID-19.

I know I have a reputation of being “anti-supplement,” but I usually always write “supplements are useless unless there is a chronic medical condition that requires the supplement.” If you’re not getting any vitamin C in your diet, you can be at risk of scurvy, so taking vitamin C supplements is appropriate. If you are pregnant, folic acid supplements are important to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in your fetus.

The evidence for vitamin D and COVID-19 has been all over the place. Sometimes, I feel that vitamin D is the new great supplement to treat everything. I tend to be skeptical of supplements because they are overhyped. And too many people believe if a small amount does this, then a whole bunch of the supplement ought to boost your immune system or something. All it does is make us have very expensive urine.

Let’s take a look at this new paper. I think it sets out an evidence-based understanding of what vitamin D may do to reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes.

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Nano silver, a fake COVID treatment, has been ordered off the market

nano silver

The US Department of Justice has sued Natural Solutions Foundation, which sells a product called nano silver that they claim can be used as a treatment and potential cure for COVID-19. A federal judge ordered the company to stop selling the quack medicine under provisions of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Natural Solutions Foundation, run by “Vitamin Lawyer” Ralph Fucetola and psychiatrist Rima Laibow, MD, claimed that anyone who consumes nano silver, which supposedly contains a suspension of silver particles, should have “no fear or concern” about COVID-19.

Of course, there is no evidence that nano silver does anything for anything, especially COVID-19. It reminds me of “colloidal silver,” more quackery that anti-vaxxers claim treats everything, including vaccine injuries. Who knew silver was so powerful? Well, it isn’t.

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You cannot boost your immune system – except with vaccines

person getting vaccinated

COVID-19 has been a windfall for quacks who think that they have the secret power to boost your immune system. The problem for these scam artists is that there really is no way to boost the immune system – well, vaccines do that, but they are targeted to single pathogens, like varicella-zoster virus or SARS-CoV-2.

The problem with these immune system myths is that they overlook or ignore a basic physiological fact – the immune system is a complex interconnected network of organs, cells, and molecules that prevent the invasion of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pathogens and other antigens every single day. In fact, the immune system works almost perfectly all the time – when it doesn’t, it’s because of a chronic disease or condition, not because you haven’t swallowed a bottle of vitamin C.

And no matter how much individuals try to trivialize the complexity of the immune system, it does not make it so. If it were easy as downing a handful of supplements or the magical blueberry-kale soy milk smoothie for boosting immunity to the novel coronavirus or any other disease, every physician in the world would prescribe it.

Unfortunately, even if we could boost our immunity, we shouldn’t – a hyperactive immune system is frequently dangerous to an individual.

The problem with the quacks is that they don’t know any of the science of the immune system, and they make money when they think you don’t.

This article will try to explain the immune system and how to keep it running effectively without buying the overpriced pseudoscience you might find on the internet or your local Whole Foods. So, I’m going to save you some money and give you confidence in the power of your own immune system.

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Do supplements prevent cancer or heart disease? No evidence

Do supplements prevent cancer or heart disease

One of the undying beliefs of some people is that a handful of expensive supplements prevent cancer and heart disease. Outside of a few cases where there is a diagnosed medical need for supplements, the only result of taking them is very expensive urine.

I’ve written a lot about various supplements and their potential to treat or prevent cancer and heart disease, and the evidence is sorely lacking. There are good ways to prevent cancer, like not smoking and getting the HPV vaccine, but not a single one of them includes swallowing a bunch of vitamins.

Recently, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued draft recommendations on supplements – they were unable to give a single recommendation to any of the supplements that they examined. And as we do here, let’s take a look at what they wrote.

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Vitamin D treatment for COVID-19 – the evidence is really weak

Two recent papers have been published recently that seem to support that vitamin D does something to prevent or treat COVID-19. Except for a tiny little problem – both of the studies terribly weak and are unconvincing except to those who just want supplements to do something to end this pandemic. Don’t get your hopes too high.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused interest in vitamin D to skyrocket, because there has been a belief that vitamin D improves the immune system against the disease. The sales of vitamin D supplements have increased substantially since pre-pandemic times.

But is there any evidence supporting its use to prevent COVID-19 or improve outcomes for serious cases? Yes, there is evidence, but it’s far from convincing. There are better ways to prevent a COVID-19 infection, and vitamin D is not one of them.

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Flu treatment quackery – it is all woo, so get your influenza vaccine

flu treatment

It’s that time of year when we are bombarded by flu treatment quackery from “immune-boosting” miracle supplements to junk that “cures” every single virus known to medical science. During this world of the coronavirus pandemic, it seems to be even louder

This article will attempt to debunk the myths of flu treatments such as “boosting the immune system,” magical supplements, and other nonsense involved with the world of flu treatment pseudoscience.

The one way to prevent the flu, other than hiding in a bubble during the winter (which may be a good thing with the COVID-19 pandemic), is the seasonal flu vaccine. But that’s not a treatment, it prevents the flu.

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